The Fourth Wave
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The Fourth Wave

This Chicago aquarium saved millions with an energy management dashboard

The custom-built software is now being rolled out to other building managers to help reduce energy consumption.

Downtown Chicago.
Solar panels are installed at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium in October 2013. Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium

“We blew it,” he said. “We didn’t have our eyes open.”

Wengel called it a lightbulb moment, and he made a key realization that would reshape how the aquarium managed its power altogether. “We didn’t really have anything to make a prediction. We were looking at the weather, but you know these thunderstorms roll in and 30 minutes later they are gone.”

‘When we look at our mission of conservation, this is our contribution to that.’

“They wanted a tool for their building operators to monitor and make sure things didn’t get out of hand,” Barbeau said. “And to be able to find new strategies for reducing energy from an operational side by being able to directly see the impact. Not just how much energy they were using, but how much better they were doing than they normally would be — every moment of every day of the year, and in real time.”

Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium

“There’s always oddball days, but I would say 90 or 95 percent we’re winning,” Wengel said.

At all times, Wengel’s team is a click away from being able to identify an issue. Barbeau said a problem with some of the other software on the market was that the operator had to review a lot of different sites to identify the problem, which wasn’t helpful.

We are entering a new era of environmental innovation that is driving better alignment between technology and environmental goals — and results. #FourthWave



Environmental progress doesn't just happen. It's been propelled by successive waves of innovation, each unleashing powerful new tools: Land conservation. Force of Law. Power of Market-Based Solutions. Today we are seeing the emergence of a Fourth Wave of environmental innovation.

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